Oxygen and hydrogen isotope compositions of Earth's seawater are controlled by volatile fluxes among mantle, lithospheric (oceanic and continental crust), and atmospheric reservoirs. Throughout geologic time the oxygen mass budget was likely conserved within these Earth system reservoirs, but hydrogen's was not, as it can escape to space. Isotopic properties of serpentine from the approximately 3. 8 Ga Isua Supracrustal Belt in West Greenland are used to characterize hydrogen and oxygen isotope compositions of ancient seawater. Archaean oceans were depleted in deuterium [expressed as δD relative to Vienna standard mean ocean water (VSMOW)] by at most 25 ± 5‰, but oxygen isotope ratios were comparable to modern oceans. Mass balance of the global hydrogen budget constrains the contribution of continental growth and planetary hydrogen loss to the secular evolution of hydrogen isotope ratios in Earth's oceans. Our calculations predict that the oceans of early Earth were up to 26% more voluminous, and atmospheric CH(4) and CO(2) concentrations determined from limits on hydrogen escape to space are consistent with clement conditions on Archaean Earth.